To be happier, talk to strangers

From _Let’s make some Metra noise_1 in the Chicago Tribune:

Commuters asked to interact with other passengers reported having the most pleasant commute. Commuters asked to enjoy their solitude reported the least pleasant commute. The pleasure of conversation was not just restricted to friendly people; we found the same results among introverts and extroverts. If connecting with others is more pleasant than sitting alone, why the strong preference for quiet cars, silent cabs and empty rows on airplanes? People have strong beliefs about what will make them happy. Sometimes those beliefs are systematically wrong.

This has a surface similarity with Ben Casnocha’s idea that comfortable and interesting are mutually exclusive. You can ignore that stranger and be comfortable, or you can make a leap into the unknown, talk to them, and have a more satisfying experience (and memory of it).

  1. Metra is a commuter rail service in Chicago. ↩